Happy Memorial Day to my US readers. Happy Monday to everyone else. It’s funny how Memorial Day means different things to different people. I think we all agree that this holiday was meant as a remembrance of those who have given their lives to defend our country, but in the South where I grew up, Memorial Day was a time when you also visit the cemetery to put new flowers and trinkets by the tombstones of loved ones who have passed on. Memorial Day traditions are very different in different places.
I used to love Memorial Day as a kid because cemeteries are great places to explore and learn history. It wasn’t really a sad time at all. I can remember catching caterpillars and putting them in a jar. I’m not sure why graveyards are prime places for them, but it was caterpillar central.
In Kentucky, your wedding and your death were the two big occasions to plan for. Funerals and all the rituals that go with them are huge and often social events. I can remember getting to the funeral home early to get good seats for some of the more prominent community members.
My Mom bought grave plots years ago and already has instructions for her funeral written out. When I was a kid, there was almost never a two week span that went by without visiting the funeral home. Even if you only knew a fried of a friend, it would have been seen as rude not to at least go to visitation or take food to the grieving family.
In the west, death is not such an event. I think I’ve been to two funerals in almost 15 years. Many people don’t have a funeral at all. I’ve even know people with terminal illnesses who have had celebration of life gatherings while they are still around. I love it. I’ve always thought open casket services were awful. No one looks good dead. I don’t care how much make up or hairspray the mortician uses. I would much rather remember people in life rather than have that last image of someone in a casket, but then again, I never did quite fit in in the south.
Enough talk of death and dying. I hope everyone celebrates Memorial Day how they want today. I am in Kentucky with family, and might even be at the graveyard. When in Rome, I guess.
Happy Memorial Day!